Memes and mimetic media content have slowly emerged as an everyday ‘vernacular’ of digital spaces in India along with the rest of the world. Multi-modal, remediated mimetic texts are created drawing from a variegated pop-cultural landscape consisting of Bollywood, Kollywood, Tollywood and so many others that reflect attitudes and stances towards everything from romantic failures, woes of a student’s life to corruption and nepotism in politics. While memes in India have not perhaps attained the political salience that they have in the North American context (during the Occupy movement and the infamous ‘meme wars’ of the 2016 Presidential elections) their creation and circulation constitute an important vernacular for everyday communicative practices. This project will analyze the production and circulation of memes to understand how the memes are often manipulated and remediated in order to make contesting claims on religious pluralism, secularism and liberalism in the Indian political context. Building on recent body of work by scholars such as Ryan Milner, Limor Shifman, Wendy Phillips and others, this project will also draw insights from media studies, visual studies and political theory.
Krishanu Bhargav Neog is a Ph.D. student in the Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University. His research looks into the question of the political ‘subject’ (and ‘subject’-formation) online through everyday techno-social and techno-cultural practices on the internet such as ‘lurking’ and circulation of memes. An engineering graduate, he obtained Master’s degree in Development Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.